Claims involving police dogs don’t follow the usual Tennessee dog bite liability rules. Under state law, anyone engaged in the wrongdoing that prompted a police response is ineligible to sue the owner of a police dog for bite injuries. However, the law doesn’t apply to law-abiding citizens at the scene, even if the dog was performing official duties at the time of the bite.
Who Could File a Claim After a Police Dog Attack?
Police dogs are usually large breeds weighing 70 pounds or more and are trained to chase and hold suspects with their teeth until officers arrive. Even when police dogs are lawfully deployed, their bites can cause deep lacerations, broken bones, and permanent scarring—and innocent victims should not be forced to suffer the financial and emotional burdens of their injuries alone.
Victims who may be able to file injury claims for K-9 bites include:
- Fellow law enforcement officers. In a recent case, a Tennessee state trooper was bitten by the police dog belonging to a sheriff’s deputy after calling for backup. The trooper filed an injury case against the owner of the dog and won the case on appeal.
- Handlers. Police dogs can bite anyone, including their handlers. Members of the force or the K-9 unit could be owed workers’ compensation for a dog bite that happened on the job.
- Bystanders. Police dogs are often let off the leash to pursue a suspect, increasing the risk of injuries if the suspect runs into a crowded area. Bystanders may be bitten if they think the suspect is being attacked and attempt to pull the dog off or if they simply get too close to the suspect.
- Family members. A K-9 unit may be sent to a suspect’s home, disturbing law-abiding relatives or roommates. If the handler fails to restrain the dog, the dog picks up the suspect’s scent on a family member, or the dog feels threatened, it could attempt to restrain the wrong target.
If you suffered a serious dog bite injury, contact the legal team at GriffithLaw today to have us fight on your behalf. We explain all costs to you upfront and don’t collect any payment until you receive compensation.